MOMENTUM: Post Election, Marijuana Law Reform Bills to be Introduced at Both State and Federal Level

The message from our big wins on Election Day has already begun to reverberate around the nation. Right on the heels of the votes in Washington and Colorado, several other states (and countries!) are already beginning to consider similar measures in their legislature.

Last week, representatives from Maine and Rhode Island announced their intentions to introduce legislation that would tax and regulate marijuana in their respective states. Rep. Diane Russell of Maine and Rep. Edit Ajello from Rhode Island will be submitting these bills soon. Reports from Marijuana Policy Project indicated that Vermont and Massachusetts intend to follow suit.

Reform is spreading as far as Iowa. Today, Rep. Bruce Hunter announced his intentions of not only reintroducing his medical marijuana measure, but also a bill that would decriminalize the possession of cannabis.

The push for sensible reforms does not end at the state level, this week 18 members of the House of Representatives cosigned a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder and Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart urging them to respect states that chose to experiment with new approaches to marijuana. You can read the full text of the letter here.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) also declared that she will soon introduce legislation, entitled the “Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act,” which would exempt states where voters have legalized cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act provisions related to the substance.

Leaders outside of the United States have also been following these recent reform efforts closely. Uruguay has just introduced legislation into their congress that would legalize the possession, cultivation, and state-controlled production of marijuana. In Mexico, lawmaker Fernando Belaunzaran of Party of the Democratic Revolution has introduced legislation that also aims to legalize the production, sale and use of marijuana.

Now that two states have legalized marijuana, the floodgates of reform have opened and each day more Americans, and people around the globe, are waking up to the reality that the prohibition of marijuana has been an utter failure. The statement delivered by the voters of Colorado and Washington is that we must regulate marijuana and do away with the societal ills caused by prohibition. Further, it showed that if the government isn’t willing to take the first step, the people will do it for them. We can only hope this recent wave of reform measures is just the beginning and we must work diligently to spread these rational policies nationwide. If history is any indication, like alcohol prohibition before it, the one on marijuana will crumble at an accelerated rate as more Americans continue to stand up, in growing numbers, and demand sensible marijuana policy.

Ruminating on the ‘domino effect’ of change, President Eisenhower once stated, “You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly.”

May it be so with marijuana legalization.

108 thoughts

  1. This whole thing (prohibition) is on the verge of falling apart right before our eyes! This is a very historic movement in our country and will be compared to the repeal of alcohol prohibition.

    Although I am very perplexed at the notion that alcohol prohibition required a Constitutional Amendment, whereas marijuana prohibition was merely enacted by Congressional statute. Our nation should be incensed that the CSA is even constitutional in the first place. I believe that NORML has even litigated this very issue, and regrettably, the courts sided with the government. The constitutional upholding of the CSA truly represents the dilution of many Constitutional principles. It’s a sad day in America when the Government is more powerful than the Constitution. (In my opinion, the CSA is also an unconstitutional, governmental interference with private contract, but that’s another issue altogether.)

  2. @jedthehed: Amen.
    @matt: A lot of good points, but there’s no reason we should we have to be registered and taxed to grow our own. After all, we can make wine, brew beer or grow tobacco for personal use without that kind of oppressive oversight.

  3. I think that alot of this is up to Barack Obama now and I can only hope that he makes a good and proper choice.

  4. Although I’m having a hard time believing the progress of these initiatives, I’m extremely excited that NORML and other organizations are pushing forward like a locomotive running behind schedule. Like snapu23 (4 spots before my post), I am a die-hard Obama supporter, and I firmly believe Obama will support these initiatives if enough Americans let their voices be heard just as they did in our recent election. In my humble opinion, once five or six more States follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington, the federal government will have their backs against a very hard wall and will have no choice but to the back off and let States do their thing regarding this issue. Thanks again NORML

  5. Are there any lawyers here that could shed some more light on the differences between the different processes in different states?

  6. Unfortunatly i live in South Carolina. I too have wriiten to all my representatives and only recieved one response. That was from senator lindsay grahman who is against any form of legalization, including medical use. If im ever gonna get pain relief i will have to move, since morphine isn’t working anymore, cause South Carolina will definitly be the very last state to follow suit if ever! ๐Ÿ™
    .

  7. Remember, votes count folks. The establishment will listen to nothing else. Votes in the jury box, votes in the ballot box, votes for money for the politicians. Someone should post a note all over the city that Zach Walker is in, he is going trial in Texas for possession, he is pleading no guilty and three NORML attorneys are helping on this one. But the word out to the jury pool would spell a death knell to the prosecutors case. NORML can you spread the word in this town for Zach?

    [Editor’s note: Zach and his legal team are profiled here.]

  8. sorry Melissa but I believe that Wyoming will be the last state in the Union to pass anything positive in the regards to cannibus

  9. @Melissa Hopkins

    you might not have to go far. i firmly believe NC will be among the states that eventually legalize. This state is becoming more and more progressive by the day

  10. I just wanted to wish everybody a happy Thanksgiving and to give a special thanks to the promoters and contributors of norml, but also a thanks to the law enforcers for standing by us and demanding what is right. Too long has our country been ensnared by the bile of past government initiatives. It is time to prosper anew in ways which we really do have equal opportunity.

  11. Come on PA. We got Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. People like to toke here and it’s safer than cigarettes. Legalize recognize analyze. You smell the chronic in the air? Like Dr. Dre said, We’re taking over in here. Old republican farts are dropping like flies! ALWAYS VOTE EVERY 2 (TWO) YEARS ON THE EVEN NUMBERED YEARS. Vote these suckers out of office!!!

  12. I think it’s time we start legalizing Marijuana everywhere. Stop living in fear and start thinking about how great the future will be! LEGALIZE IT!

    Why don’t we just start legalizing it everywhere? Why are so many people still stuck in this FEAR stage…? Stop worrying, start hoping. LEGALIZE IT!

    If you live in a state where Marijuana isn’t legal yet and still want the same type of highs, I suggest checking out uIntoxicate.com. It has amazingly detailed legal highs reviews and where to get them without getting ripped off!
    Also! I’m starting up a new forum dedicated to my fellows stoners. Come on over and join the high conversations! We’re quite new, but VERY welcoming.

    CHECK IT: http://uintoxicate.com/
    STONER FORUMS: http://www.stonersofthestates.com/forum/

  13. In a multi-cultural Ethnically mixed Racially diverse Society We need Cannabis Reform for Peace and Prosperity

  14. New York should legalize and regulate at recreational and medical levels. to many young kids lives are in ruins because of a simple plant that grows on earth!!!!…oh and Happy Thanksgiving Day!

  15. Okay, first of all…

    All my friends are stoners.
    Everyone I know gets high.
    Maybe there’s a reason
    Why weed’s not legalized.
    Maybe they’re afraid of
    Too much peace and harmony.
    Maybe they’re afraid of
    Open minds, and people free.

    And secondly…

    We’ve got a black president before weed’s legal.
    In my mind, in my time, that shit’s unbelievable.
    I love Obama, I love ALL people.
    I just can’t believe that a plant’s not legal.

    Hey, Mister President…

    A plant, a seed, that grows in the soil
    And they still fightin’ bloody wars over oil?
    Reefer Madness is used as propaganda.
    Fear is a tool that they use to command us.
    So understand us: we don’t fear no plant

    So, any questions?

  16. I can see most of the blue states going green over the next 20 yrs. That’s not really such a long time. Med Pot first passed in California almost 20 yrs ago. I know I’m getting old but that doesn’t seem that long ago. We may be half way to getting Marijuana legal in half the states and that aint half bad.

  17. hope you all had an awesome thanksgiving…we have much to be thankful for. it was tough again this year to not be able to celebrate these holidays with an occasional bowl…so, hey floridians….how bout it? whats is happening with florida….anyone ?..i have written our wonderful…pill pushing governor and was only told that i need to take it up with the feds. in so many words….how bout anyone else in the land of flat?? thank you all supporters and workers of norml….hey florida……we just cant pick on the older folks near as much as we can the lazy asses that are not ruled by drug testing to keep a job !! doesnt it matter to you that their are MANY who share the love of herb as you but cannot consume cause YOU wont speak up ??…peace to you all…

  18. Ya know, since our good ol’ “big brother” is looking at our social media without a warrant now, we COULD be proactive and start talking about ways our opposition could benefit from legalization. I always see posts to the effect of something like: “Screw the gov’t,” or “To hell with the DEA.” These only make us look bad to them. Instead, we could all show them that us consumers can and will be forgiving and productive. For example;

    1. We could stop insisting that the DEA be defunded and shut down, but instead offer a solution to them, something like: Turning them into a legal board who oversees regulation rules set down by the industry. They could be in charge of QA, import/export markets and enforcing age restrictions – just to name a few. I certainly don’t want the DEA touching my smoke, but it’s just an idea to get us thinking.

    2. Along with reforms, suggest several safety measures to ensure its regulation is on par with all agreements.

    3. If a state has no MMJ laws yet, any legislation would have, or at least SHOULD have, a system in place so patients can grow the amount they need, and other things like pricing, etc. be put in place. This would ensure the MMJ industry stays strong after full-scale regulation is put into place.

    These are just a few; I’ve got tons more. The gov’t looks at us like a bunch of addicts who care about nothing but our “fix.” They don’t believe we can or will be productive members of society. Let’s stop yelling so much and prove to them wrong. Let’s show them that we, in fact, can be responsible, civil and helpful with this. If we get the opposition on board with us, nothing can stop it. In other words, if everybody’s happy, then everybody’s happy.

  19. I can only hope maryland will get it and follow colorado and washington states. We have so called medical marijuana, no arrest for possession with a doctors note. were can I buy it except on the street and still cant cultivate anything. this doesnt sound real compassionate to me.

  20. The federal needs to amend their laws because according to them its still illegal. When are we going to put a STOP to the federal

  21. I had a friend who had full blown AIDS His medications were really good & slowed the progression of His disease (when He would take them) But the problem was the medications which were very successful had horrible side effects He had terrible muscle aches & body pains He had bad Nasea & was sick all the time & He was lethargic & had no energy & he suffered from depression while taking his Meds because of all of this. He would quit taking his Meds & physically feal fine & normal & happy like his normal self & his diseaese would progress rapidly while not on His Meds & He’d have to be hospitalized numerous times from not taking his Meds which helped him but made him so damn sick He struggled like this for several years & eventually took his own life He was thirty years old Cannabis would have saved his life But because he lived in an oppressive police-state his government would not grant him safe access to the medicine that would have saved his life

  22. I have been on the edge of my seat since the election. Finally, some news that hits home. I have been waiting 38 years for weed prohibiition. This is not a good thing for weed dealers, but do we want the dealers to make the money or the government? So far our government sides with the weed dealers isnt that a wonder. I cant wait for Texas to legalize, sell and tax it.

  23. I make my living helping latin american people and guess what all of them that I have talked to about marijuana want it legalized. Most of them go on to say that their grandmothers used it for pain. Texas needs to step up and legalize it as we are one of the major problems for Mexico. So far Texas sides with the drug gangs in keeping marijuana illegal. 2013 Texas legislature needs to step up to the plate and lead the southern states, lets put a crimp in the mexican drug gangs profits.

  24. First of all.. whom ever feels that the DEA should be in anyway involved in regulation.. your nuts. These are militant people. They are a hinder to your freedom. They will never side for MMJ as for I know two retired DEA who both smoke, They have made it clear that weed is the only way they make the money to run the organization. The forfeitures alone make millions. If you could walk into a DEA warehouse you may find a few hundred kilos of heroin and coke but damn, the marijuana is by far the king.
    Second, why should we pay taxes or be regulated. Are we not already taxed and regulated to death? Why shoud we have to give our anotomy to the government? Are we not already living in big bro state? This is an herb people! This government is corrupt and beyond the reach of its use. This is no more theirs then my tomatoe plants. But you have a Monsonto CEO running the Dept of Ag and poisons in our foods so you want these fools to run your herb? The DEA should be shot down period. Drugs should be legal, no other crime but drugs? Well then kill yourself if you must, but if you rob my home.. God help you. We are wasting our money on this organization, drugs will never stop. Criminals will get rich off of them. More dangerous “designer” drugs like bath salts will pop up and more scum will manifacture them. If we made them legal, we could shut down prisons, we could stop gang violence and I am all for manditory rehab instead of prison and I don’t mean 2 months but two yrs plus. Its cost is minimal compared to privatized prisons and we get productive people in the end instead of a young kid experimenting who enters prison a scared kid and exits a hardened broken criminal.

  25. I think it’s great people are finally waking up to the reality of prohibition. It dosn’t work. People are going to do what they want no matter what the cost. So, I hope the courts will realize that as there is still discrimination due to urine tests. If the courts cannot distinguish between impairment and usage, soon there will be allot of unemployed people due to the invasion of privacy inaccurate urine tests reveal. I hope peole will wake up and see how unconstitutional these test are.

  26. Hey this is great and so many positive comments suggested on here. I do have a good feeling that Obama will progress the movement in his next term in one of two ways: One is he could help facilate a change in scheduling(unlikely) or he would simply allow/support one of the bills to exempt states from the Controlled substances Act. I just don’t see him being harsh on CO And WA.

  27. Victor, Obama could do anything, but based on his past “performance,” I would bet he will instruct his police and lawyers to crackdown on this before liberty gets out of hand.

  28. Now is the time to act people! It’s not going to legalize it’s self.
    We need NORML to hold a rally in DC. And every one must let
    there voice be heard! Any one who reads this should beg every
    one they know to join NORML. Its time to grow a pair and stand
    up for what you want!

    It would be legalized tomorrow if every one that says they want
    it legalized would do something about it. Join NORML!!! Write your
    Congressman. Pass around a petition. Do something!!!!!

  29. I’m from Missouri.. Nice state, but too many meth cookers… wouldn’t it be nice to change them to growers of pot… I would feel safer at night.

  30. Okay, maybe I misspoke about the DEA. What I meant was, they would be re-trained into positions where they would assure the standards that the industry, NOT the gov’t, would set down. For example, they would ensure things like safety and purity standards are followed, and that the ID requirement was followed (like the liquor authority does for booze).
    See, the thing here with them is…they are our biggest opposition, and they only oppose us because they don’t wanna be on the unemployment line. Are they corrupt? Hell yes (that was rhetorical, BTW), but look at the rules they are paid to follow. All I’m suggesting is change the rules of the organization and the organization itself will change. This way, our strongest opposition has no reason to oppose us. Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to make them actually work for US for a change? Keep the name Drug Enforcement Agency though, so we never forget the atrocities that they have plagued us all with. Let’s never do this to another substance, regardless of what it is, so our world never has to endure this shit again.

  31. No, we should shutdown or completely restructure the CIA, the FDA and the DEA should be disbanded and absorbed into the FBI. Maintaining it as a separate police force that cannot follow the law too well is completely stupid. The DEA is a waste of money. And they are assholes too boot. They need rehab’ed and a new mission.

  32. Missouri state representative Chris Kelly has announced his intention to push for legalization of marijuana for responsible adult use. I have written a letter to Rep. Sheila Solon stating my support. Please, NORML, contact Rep. Kelly and offer him your support in getting legalization here in Missouri. I thank you and my Crohn’s thanks you.

  33. WE NEED CANNABIS LEGAL IN MISSOURI everyone smokes here and the nazi police are crazy they make up reasons to pull you over just to search your vehicle

  34. There is a new petition on We the People, a new feature on WhiteHouse.gov, and it needs your support. It asks the Obama administration to decline prosecution of federal marijuana laws that conflict with State laws. Will you please add your name to the petition? If this petition gets 25,000 signatures by December 27, 2012, the White House will review it and respond!

    While there are other petitions related to the legalization of marijuana being circulated on the website, this one is unique in that it asks the President to take an action which he can do without relying on the Congress to act. If the Attorney General will decline to prosecute marijuana laws in States that have chosen to legalize it, then medical marijuana dispensaries in California, for instance, can re-open without the threat of asset forfeiture and criminal prosecution.

    You can view and sign the petition here:

    http://wh.gov/IdjJ

    Please cut and paste this to your Facebook pages or spread the word via your Twitter accounts. The more signatures we get, the more likely we will get a favorable response. The tide of history is on our side, but we need to act!

  35. dennystrausserjr@gmail.com
    I once said, “Once one state actually does it, it’ll spread like wildfire.”
    Not quite, but it seems, not far off. This was back when Nevada was trying to legalize 6 OZ at once.
    2003 or 2004. I don’t remember for sure.
    I hope it spreads to PA by the time my SSI comes through. It does, I’ll be happily toking at the bar. ๐Ÿ˜‰ xD

  36. NO TAXATION WITHOUGHT LEGEALIZATION !

    Use the money generated to fund drug treatment for Crack, Meth, heroin … drugs that BELONG in schedule one.

    Use the room in jails and prisons for the white collar financial criminals ruining peoples lives

    That will never happen tho

  37. I believe the news mentioned that we would save about $600,000,000 per year if the prisons were not full of inmates for marijuana offenses and task forces hired for the control of marijuana in the black market. It also mentioned we would create about $900,000,000 each year in taxed revenue. What the hell is this country waiting for. LEGALIZE IT, TAX IT, SEW IT EVERYWHERE!

  38. I hope they decrimilize weed here in my home state of nj because these bullshit laws a meager 1/4 and a scale could make you a felon . I know some states are legalizing but I believe nj will b one of the last .

  39. The opposition, regardless of who they are, are nuts – no, flippin’ CRAZY – for wanting to maintain current policies. It’s not just the consumers, businesses and states that can and will benefit from regulation, but also;

    1. The lumber/paper industries could just simply switch over to hemp as their main fiber. Cheaper and easier to produce, but also the work environment would be a whole lot safer for the workers. Too easy.

    2. Big pharma, with all the time, money and effort put into fighting the inevitable, they could put all of that into new ways of using the plant to make new and superior meds. Face it, sickness will never go away as long as man exists. With all the cash and smart guys in long white jackets they have, they could be making a fortune with this plant; much more $ than they do, now. BTW, I LOVE mankind – long live the human race. ๐Ÿ˜€

    3. Tobacco is on the way out, and alcohol will be as soon as this is legal. They are both going to need a new source. How about THC-free bud, and THC infused beverages? Cigarettes that don’t give anyone cancer, and booze that doesn’t cause an OD or make you puke (or give you a hangover, or make people beat the wife, or cause sclerosis, or damage society). Wow, what a novel concept!

    3. Parents, prisons, states and everyone else will benefit due to the windfall of tax/tourism money, ID card requirements, safety and purity rules, and an entire slew of countless other benefits. Also, with police freed up to go after, oh IDK, maybe rapists and murderers, they would actually be operating how they’r supposed to; and with the govc’t having more cash, they could receive incentives for proper corrections operations and so on.

    I have held to the belief that prohibition’s death warrant was signed when the first state decrimmed possession, assigning fines rather than jail. Then came MMJ (thank you, California!), which just affirmed this. I knew this day would come. I knew that the day I smoked my first doober. After all, the same lie can only be held for so long before the truth shines through.

    Thank you NORML, MPP, and all other MJ organizations. Thank you Mr Jack Herrer, for getting the truth published. I only wish you were still around to see all this coming to fruition like a great big, purple and red haired Jamaican bud.

    On a side note, if you haven’t seen this book – GET IT. My brother gave me one a while back when I wrote a college paper on legalization. It’s printed on hemp; I think the ink is even made from hemp. Also, it’s indispensable when speaking the truth and backing it up to one of these nazis.

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